South Korean cafe hires robot barista to help with social distancing

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A robot that takes orders, makes coffee and brings the drinks straight to customers is seen in a cafe in Daejeon, South Korea, May 25, 2020. (Reuters/Kim Hong-Ji)
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A robot that takes orders, makes coffee and brings the drinks straight to customers delivers an order in a cafe in Daejeon, South Korea, May 25, 2020. (Reuters/Kim Hong-Ji)
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Customers wait at a cafe where a robot that takes orders, makes coffee and brings the drinks straight to customers is being used in Daejeon, South Korea, May 25, 2020. (Reuters/Kim Hong-Ji)
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A robot that takes orders, makes coffee and brings the drinks straight to customers at their seats is seen at a cafe in Daejeon, South Korea, May 25, 2020. (Reuters/Kim Hong-Ji)
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A robot that takes orders, makes coffee and brings the drinks straight to customers at their seats is seen at a cafe in Daejeon, South Korea, May 25, 2020. (Reuters/Kim Hong-Ji)
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A robot that takes orders, makes coffee and brings the drinks straight to customers is seen in Daejeon, South Korea, May 25, 2020. (Reuters/Kim Hong-Ji)
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Updated 25 May 2020

South Korean cafe hires robot barista to help with social distancing

  • It is believed the robots could help with social distancing as the COVID-19 pandemic continues
  • The manufacturer and the scientific institute aim to supply at least 30 cafes with robots this year

DAEJEON, South Korea: The new robot barista at the cafe in Daejeon, South Korea, is courteous and swift as it seamlessly makes its way toward customers.
“Here is your Rooibos almonds tea latte, please enjoy. It’s even better if you stir it,” it says, as a customer reaches for her drink on a tray installed within the large, gleaming white capsule-shaped computer.
After managing to contain an outbreak of the new coronavirus which infected more than 11,000 people and killed 267, South Korea is slowly transitioning from intensive social distancing rules toward what the government calls “distancing in daily life.”
Robots could help people observe social distancing in public, said Lee Dong-bae, director of research at Vision Semicon, a smart factory solution provider which developed the barista robot together with a state-run science institute.
“Our system needs no input from people from order to delivery, and tables were sparsely arranged to ensure smooth movements of the robots, which fits will with the current ‘untact’ and distancing campaign,” he said.
The system, which uses a coffee-making robotic arm and a serving robot, can make 60 different types of coffee and serves the drinks to customers at their seats. It can also communicate and transmit data to other devices and contains self-driving technology to calculate the best routes around the cafe.
An order of six drinks, processed through a kiosk, took just seven minutes. The only human employee at the two-story cafe was a patissier who also has some cleaning duties and refills ingredients.
The manufacturer and the scientific institute aim to supply at least 30 cafes with robots this year.
“Robots are fun and it was easy because you don’t have to pick up your order,” said student Lee Chae-mi, 23. “But I’m also a bit of worried about the job market as many of my friends are doing part-time jobs at cafes and these robots would replace humans.”


TWITTER POLL: More than three-quarters say no to failing Turkish lira

Updated 22 September 2020

TWITTER POLL: More than three-quarters say no to failing Turkish lira

  • Lira has lost half its value since 2017
  • Poll finds more than 80% would not invest in falling currency

DUBAI: The Turkish lira has plummeted 22 percent this year, but an Arab News Twitter poll found that most people still don’t have the confidence to invest in the tumbling currency.

About 18 percent of the 1,438 respondents said that a weak lira was worth investing in, while nearly 82 percent said the risk was too great.

Traders will buy currency when it is weak, but tend to only do so if there is confidence that it will eventually climb back up in value – thus making a profit.

The lira – already impacted by the coronavirus and President Recep Erdogan’s authoritarian style of leadership – has suffered increased problems as he printed more money to bolster spending, but instead his plan led to a further devaluation.

Turkey and Erdogan are facing widespread condemnation for their foreign policy, which has seen the country intrude into Greek-claimed waters and interference in Libya and Syria.

There is also growing concern of civil unrest inside the country.

On Monday the currency reached record lows, touching 7.6 against the US dollar – it has lost half its value since the end of 2017.